Mayor Murray establishes team to guide renewal of Community Service Officer program

Mayor Ed Murray announced the creation of an interdepartmental project team (IDT) to guide the development of a new Community Service Officer (CSO) program. The CSO program will be designed to ensure that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is better able to provide non-emergency services and support to Seattle’s communities.

“It is critical to the long-term success of our police department to build strong, lasting bonds between officers and the communities they serve,” said Mayor Murray. “The Seattle Police Department has worked for years to become a model of 21st century policing and the Community Service Officer program will help us reach the ultimate goal of building community trust with the department. With this in mind, the interdepartmental team will utilize the City’s Racial Equity Toolkit to inform the development of the program and to address the biggest divides that exist between the police and community. I am appreciative of Councilmember O’Brien’s efforts to secure funding for this important program.”

Existing CSO programs in the United States typically handle non-emergency incidents such as neighborhood disputes, investigations, and crime prevention which can ultimately increase efficiency within a police department and improve service to residents. Mayor Murray has long supported the renewal of the program to help neighborhoods work with SPD and to further the City’s commitment to constitutional and bias-free policing.

Mayor Murray’s directive tasks the IDT to develop recommendations for a new CSO program informed by the City’s Racial Equity Toolkit. These recommendations will address CSO qualifications, training curriculum, and operational functions with SPD.

The IDT will consist of representatives from the Mayor’s Office, SPD, Department of Neighborhoods, Office for Civil Rights, Seattle Human Services, City Budget Office, and the City Council. The IDT will be chaired by police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. The involvement of the Community Police Commission is contingent upon the Court’s indication of approval under the 2012 Consent Decree between the City of Seattle and Department of Justice. The IDT will develop the scope, budget, and action plan for the CSO program and will make its recommendations in early 2018.

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Mayor Murray releases statement on President-elect Trump’s pick for Attorney General

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement on reports that Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions has been chosen by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next U.S. Attorney General:

“Senator Sessions has been the leading anti-immigrant senator for nearly two decades. He has repeatedly fought any type of immigration reform, pushed to build a fence on the southern border, and proposed legislation threatening cities with federal funding cuts for supporting unauthorized immigrants. President-elect Trump’s choice underscores the need for cities like Seattle to stand up for our values of inclusiveness and compassion.

“Regardless of who ultimately heads the Department of Justice, the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department will continue the important work of accountability reform in our police department under the Consent Decree and of strengthening the relationship between the community and police. Seattle has become a national leader in Constitutional and bias-free policing over the last four years and I look forward to transmitting our reform legislation to Council in the coming weeks.”

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Mayor Murray statement on DOJ-led study on SPD community relations 

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) federal monitoring team released findings indicating that the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) performance with communities of color has improved over the last year, with fewer people reporting problems with their interactions with SPD and more residents feeling that SPD is keeping them safe.

“The report commissioned by the federal monitoring team underscores the progress being made by the Seattle Police Department in addressing the gulf that exists between officers and the communities they serve,” said Mayor Murray. “And we continue to work to repair the trust with our police department. Earlier this month, we sent the strongest police accountability proposal in Seattle’s history to the federal judge for review. Once we hear from Judge Robart, we will send a final reform package, which will include permanent and meaningful civilian oversight, to the City Council for their input and approval.”

The accountability reform proposal currently under review by U.S. District Court Judge James Robart creates the following key accountability measures:

  • Creation of the Office of Inspector General, empowered to review and report on any aspect of SPD’s policies and practices;
  • Increases the independence of our Office of Professional Accountability, replacing sworn SPD officers with civilian staff tasked with overseeing all investigations and complaints against officers; and
  • Makes the Community Police Commission a permanent body, ensuring community input is institutionalized into Seattle’s police services.

In August of this year, Judge Robart issued an order ruling that any SPD reform package must be reviewed by the Court before being sent to City Council to ensure the package meets the accountability and transparency requirements agreed to under the 2012 Consent Decree settlement with the DOJ.

The poll, which was commissioned by the DOJ’s monitoring team, surveyed a random sampling of 700 Seattle residents over the age of 18, with additional interviews of Latino and African American residents. The overall results show that SPD’s performance rating has climbed from 60% in 2013 to 72% in 2016. The full report, along with methodology, can be found here.

 

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City encourages residents to prepare for weekend weather

With high-winds and rain predicted for Seattle and much of the Pacific Northwest this weekend, it is recommended that residents take extra precautions at home and when out. Residents should defer traveling during the storm, avoid and report downed power lines and trees, and be cautious near areas experiencing flooding.

Latest modeling shows a chance for heavy winds to arrive in the Seattle area as early as 5 PM on Saturday, October 15 and lasting throughout the evening. For the most current weather updates please visit the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office, Impact Briefing for Seattle. For up to date information impacting the City of Seattle please visit or Alert.Seattle.gov.

Storm Safety Information
• Please call 911 to report downed lines, do not touch or attempt to remove lines that have fallen during the storm.

• If you lose power at home, please call (206) 684-3000 to report the outage or call the Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-7400 to hear a recorded message with power restoration updates.

• Because of the timing of tomorrow’s storm, there may be challenges with travel throughout the city tomorrow evening and Sunday morning.

• For individuals using life-sustaining and medical equipment, please contact and register with your utility company. For more information call (206) 684-3020.

• Remember to treat intersections that are impacted by power outages as four-way stops.

• Check the Metro and Sound Transit websites for any impacts to your transit routes.

• Maintain gutters, downspouts, rain barrels, private culverts by keeping them clean, flowing and directed away from properties and hillsides.

• Keep storm drains free of leaves and other debris to prevent streets from flooding. Be sure to stay out of the road when raking.

• All Seattle Parks and Recreation grass athletic fields, including West Seattle Stadium, will be closed through the weekend. Most importantly, please remember to safe and use extreme caution outdoors. Parks officials encourage residents to avoid Seattle parks entirely this weekend due to the high-winds.

• Seattle Parks has cancelled programs and activities in parks across the system. For the most up-to-date information please visit seattle.gov/parks

• Generally, we want to remind you that if you do lose power, keep grills, camping stoves and generators outside. Fuel burning appliances are sources of carbon monoxide, a dangerous and poisonous gas.

• Have an emergency preparedness kit ready to help you get through until power is restored

• Storms can create a storm surge impacting high-tide. For information pertaining to tides visit NOAA.

• A temporary, emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness will be open at the Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion – near 2nd & Thomas, south of Key Arena. The co-ed adult shelter will open on Saturday and Sunday from 7 PM to 7AM. This shelter can accommodate 100 people.

• King County Shelter for adult males has expanded capacity to serve 50 additional men Friday through Tuesday, 10/14 – 10/18. The King County Shelter is located at the King County Administration Building at 500 4th Avenue in Seattle. The shelter opens at 7 PM.

• The City Hall Co-ed shelter at 600 4th Ave in Seattle will expand capacity Friday through Tuesday 10/14 – 10/18 with an emphasis on accommodating women seeking shelter. The shelter is open from 7PM to 6AM.

• Sign up and use AlertSeattle at alert.seattle.gov for up-to-date information from the City of Seattle

• The City will have additional staff and crews available throughout the evening and weekend to respond to emergencies as they arise. The Seattle Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center will be activated throughout the weekend.

Additional preparedness information can be found at: Take Winter by Storm – www.takewinterbystorm.org or What to do to make it through – http://makeitthrough.org/

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Mayor Murray sends police accountability reform package to federal judge

Mayor Ed Murray and the City of Seattle today filed draft legislation for Seattle Police Department (SPD) accountability reform with U.S. District Court Judge James Robart for review.  The legislation is a collaborative product of months-long discussions with the Community Police Commission, Federal Monitor Merrick Bobb, the City and many other stakeholders. The proposal creates an independent office of Inspector General, transforms the Community Police Commission (CPC) into a permanent body, and increases the scope and independence of SPD’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA).

“Today marks a historic and critical juncture for the people of Seattle and their police department,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We’ve been engaged for many months on the critical work of getting police reform right and today we agreed upon the strongest and most transparent police accountability structure in our city’s history. Change does not occur overnight, but thanks to the collaborative effort of the many stakeholders, the CPC and the City, this package can begin to make lasting institutional change that can ultimately build trust between the police and the communities they serve.”

The package sent to Judge Robart includes the following key accountability measures:

  • Creation of the Office of Inspector General, empowered to review and report on any aspect of SPD’s policies and practices.
  • Increases the independence of our Office of Professional Accountability, replacing sworn SPD officers with civilian staff tasked with overseeing all investigations and complaints against officers.
  • Makes the CPC a permanent body, ensuring community input is institutionalized into Seattle’s police services.

In August of this year, Judge Robart issued an order ruling that any SPD reform package must be reviewed by the Court before being sent to City Council to ensure the package meets the accountability and transparency requirements agreed to under the 2012 Consent Decree settlement with the Department of Justice. After the Department of Justice reviews and sends comments to Judge Robart, the Court begins its 90-day review period.

At the conclusion of the review period, Mayor Murray will finalize and transmit legislation to the Council.

Read the Court Brief and the Accountability Legislation

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Mayor Murray and Chief O’Toole commit to provide investigative update into recent officer involved shooting within 30 days

Mayor Ed Murray and Chief O’Toole announced today that the Seattle Police Department will provide to the public a comprehensive update of the investigation regarding the February 21 officer involved shooting within 30 days.

“We must ensure that the Seattle Police Department’s Force Investigation Team completes a fair and comprehensive investigation of the tragic officer-involved shooting on February 21, and that we provide information to the public in a transparent and timely manner,” said Mayor Murray. “The investigation and review protocols we currently have in place were developed under the federal consent decree in cooperation with the Monitor and the Department of Justice. Today’s announcement will help provide information to the public sooner and will still ensure that the investigation is conducted thoroughly and the public has a full accounting of the facts.”

“This commitment strikes the right balance between transparency and maintaining the integrity of the investigation to ensure a thorough and complete review,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

As part of the Federal Consent Decree, SPD, in cooperation with the Department of Justice and the court appointed monitor developed new protocols to investigate and review all use of force incidents, which have been replicated in other major cities as best practices. FIT investigators, who are specifically trained to investigate force incidents, conduct an investigation, then the facts of the investigation are presented to the Force Review Board within 90 days of the incident. The Force Review Board includes multiple outside and independent observers, including a civilian observer, the Department of Justice, and the Monitoring Team.

The Force Review Board determines whether the shooting was consistent with policy, whether the officers used appropriate tactics, and whether the investigation should be turned over to the Office of Police Accountability for a disciplinary review.

“As we have been since the beginning of the consent decree, for all officer involved shootings, the Monitoring Team will be actively observing this investigation from start to finish,” said Monitor Merrick Bobb.

The Monitor recently completed assessments of the operations of the Force Investigation Team, Force Review Board, and Office of Police Accountability. The Monitor found all three to be in initial compliance with the consent decree. The Monitor specifically commended FIT for its “commitment to fair and thorough investigations of officer force.”

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Murray convenes first meeting of national Mayors and Police Chiefs Task Force

Today Mayor Ed Murray is in Washington, D.C. attending the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he convened the first Mayors and Police Chiefs Task Force meeting to share best practices and policies regarding police reform. Today’s discussion focused on ways departments can improve police interactions with people in mental health and chemical dependency crisis. Mayor Murray also discussed the Seattle Police Department’s progress towards compliance under a federal consent decree through progressive reform efforts led by Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

“The Seattle Police Department has made remarkable progress in the past two years,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Our efforts have been noted by the federal monitor, who has provided our department with appreciable support as we make significant changes to policies, de-escalation training, and oversight of policing activities. Under the leadership of Chief O’Toole, it is my hope Seattle can serve as a national model of urban policing and reform.”

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) has taken meaningful steps to enhance public trust and carry out reforms to address excessive force and biased policing since being placed under a federal consent decree in 2012. Mayor Murray named Kathleen O’Toole police chief in 2014 to lead the SPD and has been credited by the federal monitor for moving the department forward in its reform efforts. Patrol officers throughout the department have been equipped with enhanced training in de-escalation and in interacting with individuals in crisis due to mental health or chemical dependency. These trainings provide police with vital skillsets that can be used to reduce incidents of use of force. The White House recently recognized SPD’s reform efforts, and invited Chief O’Toole to attend the State of the Union as First Lady Michelle Obama’s guest.

“SPD has made great progress toward reform and our efforts are paying off, but we recognize there is still work to be done,” said Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.  “We will continue to work collaboratively with the community, our federal partners and the monitoring team to enhance public trust and further professionalize the SPD.”

Chief O’Toole also addressed the task force, along with U.S. Department of Justice’s Ron Davis, director of Community Oriented Police Services, and Dr. Antonio Oftelie of the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard.

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Mayor’s statement on monitor’s findings on Force Review Board

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today issued the following statement after the Federal Monitor Merrick Bobb found the Seattle Police Department’s Force Review Board to be in initial compliance with the court-ordered agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice:

“The federal monitor recognizes a renewed culture of accountability at the Seattle Police Department. We continue to make strides forward thanks to the leadership of Chief O’Toole and the demonstrated commitment of our officers. With new training on de-escalation and use of force, our officers are better equipped to manage tense situations in the field. When an officer does resort to force, SPD has developed additional safeguards to ensure the department is asking the right questions about training, equipment and the individual officer’s decision making. We continue to make headway on my goal to make Seattle a model for urban policing in America.”

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Seattle Police receive $600,000 federal grant for body cameras

Today, the United Stated Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded the Seattle Police Department (SPD) a $600,000 grant to implement an expanded body-worn camera program.

“Today’s announcement by the Justice Department is a huge boost to the Seattle Police Department’s efforts to improve community policing and strengthen accountability,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We know body cameras reduce the number of complaints against officers and reduce the use of force by police. I am proud of Seattle’s continued leadership as a national model for police reform.”

Earlier this year, SPD conducted its own six-month pilot of body-worn camera equipment and made some of the recorded footage available to the public on a YouTube channel. Seattle police also participated in the White House Police Data Initiative as part of an overall effort to enhance transparency and accountability in law enforcement.

In the coming months, the department will further develop the policies and protocols for the cameras with a broad range of community stakeholders, including Seattle Police Officers Guild, the Department of Justice, the federal monitor, the Community Police Commission and others.

“Body-worn video technology is incredibly important to our communities and our officers,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “We are grateful for this assistance from the Department of Justice, and are excited to continue our work enhancing transparency, accountability, and community trust.”

“I have said this from day one that body cameras are a game changer for police accountability, public safety, and as a training tool to improve policing performance,” said Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.  “Police accountability advocates such as Campaign Zero, Seattle legislative districts and community leaders have asked for body cameras and this is great news.  On behalf of the Council, I thank President Obama and his administration for allocating this funding.  We will work towards complete funding in the upcoming budget process. Without question, our work continues building stronger community ties but it starts with clear impartial video evidence of police and civilian interactions. Body camera data from other police departments have seen use of force reduced by 60 percent.”

In today’s round of grant announcements, DOJ awarded $23.2 million to 73 local and tribal agencies in 32 states to expand the use of body-worn cameras and explore their impact. The grants, which require a 50/50 in-kind or cash match, can be used to purchase equipment and require that applicants establish a strong implementation plan and a robust training policy before purchasing cameras. The long term costs associated with storing this information will be the financial responsibility of each local agency.

For additional information from the Department of Justice, visit: http://www.bja.gov/bwc/pdfs/BWCPIP-Award-Fact-Sheet.pdf.

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Statement on Seattle Police Monitor’s report

Mayor Murray issued the following statement after the Seattle Police Monitor today released his Fifth Semiannual Report on the progress the Seattle Police Department has made under the federal Consent Decree:

“For the second report in a row, the federal monitor describes SPD as demonstrating significant progress. We are developing the policies and training programs that support constitutional policing. While the report is not without criticism, I am proud of how far we have come.

“Chief Kathleen O’Toole continues to drive positive culture change at SPD. We continue to develop and improve use-of-force policies to ensure they reflect best practices and real-world situations. New training for our officers in de-escalating challenging situations and responding to people in crisis is generating praise from the monitor and positive attention from other departments. We will continue to improve our force review process, where we know there is more work to be done.

“Most importantly, we are working to ensure that force is used appropriately, even as our officers are actively fighting crime. Across our city, crime is down 12 percent in early 2015 – that’s admirable progress – during a period when we have experienced no officer-involved shootings. The increasing use of technology across the department, including body cameras and our crime tracking tool, SeaStat, is improving community policing.

“My vision is a department that is a national model for urban policing. In the words of the monitor, ‘There is still significant work ahead, but the SPD is positioned to be a leader in the national reform effort.’ Continued commitment from all the men and women of the department, as well as the gifted leadership of the chief and her executive team, will ensure we cross the goal line.”

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